Local man runs 18 Gray Ghost 5Ks

Jim Foell’s roots reach deeply into his hometown’s foundation. He’s lived in Anoka – or thereabouts – since he was just a four-year-old kid and is a proud member of the Anoka High School class of 1962.

Jim Foell and black lab
Proudly wearing his 2013 Gray Ghost T-shirt and holding medals won for completing the Twin Cities, Grandma’s and New York City marathons, Jim Foell poses with trusty training partner, Lulu, his four-year old black lab. Photo by Sue Austreng

His parents Harold and Toni Foell owned Toni’s Flower Shop for decades and were members of the Anoka Halloween Committee for many years.

In fact, his grandfather, Ed Marander, was one of the original founders of Anoka’s Halloween celebrations.

Foell’s taken his hometown pride and his connection to the Halloween Capital of the World one step further: this year marks the 18th Gray Ghost 5K race he’s completed – that’s more than half the total Gray Ghost races that have been run.

Foell and his family take great pride in that accomplishment, collecting every Gray Ghost 5K T-shirt he’s earned and even running the race with him on occasion.

“This is a pretty big deal. Dad will be 70 years old next May and I am not sure how many more he will run or participate in because he is a victim of Alzheimer’s and struggles with that now,” said his daughter Tracie Kapaun.

The Gray Ghost, which serves as opening act for Anoka Halloween’s annual Grand Day Parade, isn’t the only race that Foell’s completed. He’s run countless Get in Gear 10Ks, he’s finished Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, he’s completed two Twin Cities Marathons and he’s even run the New York City Marathon.

“Yep, he’s run a lot and if he wasn’t running, he was working,” said Foell’s wife, Sue, describing her husband’s work as photographer for Grandma’s and Twin Cities marathons.

In fact, during his professional life, Foell worked as a commercial photographer for some 45 years, even working for studios in Manhattan, New York City.

“He was very good at his work and he loved it,” Sue said, gesturing toward one of Jim’s favorite photographs, enlarged to poster size and hanging on the family room wall.

But back to running: Foell doesn’t stick to a strict training regimen, but runs as much as he can when the Gray Ghost 5K is on the horizon.

“He remembered the run and started asking me about it in July so we’d be ready,” said Tracie. “This is important to him.”

In fact, he’s kept every Gray Ghost T-shirt he’s ever earned.

“He’s got lots of shirts, that’s for sure,” Sue said. “One thing about running that race is that you’re running through Anoka. There’s such tradition, such history, and to be running right down Main Street, you really feel that.”

Sue Austreng is at
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